Friday, 10 February 2017

White Rose Learning Technologists' Forum, February 2017

Last week saw the latest White Rose Learning Technologists' Forum, bringing together practitioners from around the Yorkshire Region. This time it was the turn of the University of Huddersfield to host, providing thevenue for an afternoon of presentations and discussion.

The event began with a workshop presented by James McDowell, Director of Learning & Teaching at Huddersfield's School of of Computing and Engineering, on the theme of Certified Membership of the Association for Learning Technology (CMALT). Discussion revealed the importance of CMALT for both personal development of staff working in learning technology, and professional identity of practitioners. The potential obstacles of undertaking the portfolio-based process were also recognised, not least of all time, and lack of line management buy-in and securing associated funding. However a strong case was made for the benefits of CMALT, and its ability to create a network of practitioners across the region.

Up next was The University of Sheffield's Ian Loasby, Learning Technologist at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, continuing the theme of professional development. He gave an account of his successful completion of Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA), which he described as one the most rewarding things he'd undertaken in his professional career. Learning Technologists were encouraged to go for Senior Fellowship, as our work mentoring, supporting and influencing the learning and teaching of others covers many of the competencies of the programme that some academics may find difficult to evidence.

Finally Ros Walker, Huddersfield's Assistive Software and Accessibility IT Trainer, gave an update on the University's implementation of lecture capture (using the Panopto software), and in particular work on addressing its accessibility for D/deaf students. Solutions have included using an iPad as a second camera to record BSL interpreters more clearly, which the Panopto app will automatically add to the main presentation, and investigating Panopto's built-in subtitling system. The latter is pertinent to the University of Sheffield, as our soon-to-be implemented digital media hosting solution will have similar captioning capabilities. While lecture capture is hugely beneficial for many disabled students, it was illustrated in Ros's talk that it isn't a one-size-fits-all solution for the needs of all learners.

A great afternoon with engaging speakers and useful discussion. Thanks to all at the University of Huddersfield for their warm welcome at a great venue.

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